Arsenal vs Villarreal | Thursday 6th May 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Arsenal attempt to book a probable all-English Europa League final against Manchester United by overturning a 2-1 deficit against Villarreal at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
In truth, the Gunners were outclassed at Estadio de la Ceramica last week, with Mikel Arteta's side looking in serious trouble after Dani Ceballos was sent off with his side 2-0 down in the 57th minute.
However, Nicolas Pepe converted a penalty to secure a crucial away goal after Bukayo Saka was controversially adjudged to have been fouled.
That helped us land an 11/8 winner at least, with both teams scoring and receiving a card each, although Etienne Capoue and Juan Foyth both being carded at 11/1 fell agonisingly short after Foyth's yellow card for a foul on Pepe in the first half was overturned.
Capoue, like Ceballos, was sent off in the second half and both midfielders will miss out as a result here. Former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin is likely to replace Capoue in Unai Emery's engine room, with Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny vying for a place alongside Thomas Partey in midfield.
I must admit I do fancy cards in the second leg once again after a feisty affair in Spain last week, with so much on the line between two managers who clearly don't have too much time for each other.
Slovenian Slavko Vincic has the whistle in north London on Thursday and, while his average has dropped to 3.20 cards per game in European club competitions this season, his average increases to 4.55 cards per game in European knockout games.
Vincic certainly has it in him to go a bit card crazy sometimes, as we saw in the first leg of Leipzig vs Liverpool in the Champions League in February when he showed Leipzig five yellow cards despite the Germans only making 11 fouls across the 90 minutes.
10 of Vincic's last 20 matches in European competitions have seen both teams receive two or more cards each, too, so given the amount at stake – and that 3+ cards each team would have landed last week – I'm surprised to see this odds against at 21/20 (bet365). This is my main tip.
I fancy another player card long-shot, so having backed Partey and Capoue last week, I'm going for something similar with Partey and Coquelin at 8/1 (Betfair). Both players have received two yellow cards in this competition as well as four in their domestic leagues this season despite limited appearances on the whole.
Neither are shy of making a strong tackle or taking a tactical foul for the team, with Coquelin likely to be bang up for it against his former club, so it's a decent enough price for me to back.
I'm keen on shots on target again, too, with some decent odds flying around. Pepe and Samuel Chukwueze catch my eye in particular, with the two left-footed wingers both liking to cut inside from the right flank and letting fly whenever possible.
Pepe scored from the spot in the first leg and has shone in this competition this season, scoring in six of his 11 appearances as well as landing at least one shot on target in eight of his last 10 games, so I'm amazed to see him at evens (bet365) to test Villarreal's goalkeeper at least once. He's as short as 1 / 4 with Betfair.
Likewise, Chukwueze really stood out to me in the first leg, landing a shot on target for the fifth consecutive match in all competitions. With his capability in front of goal, again I make 13/8 (bet365) for the Nigerian to test Bernd Leno a very good price.
It's a shame you can't double these up on bet365 as a price of 4/1 would be very tasty indeed! For those wanting to do so, it might be worth making a 10/1 treble with Manu Trigueros (5/2) over on Betfair, with the midfielder's opener in last week's first leg his fifth shot on target in his last six appearances in this competition.